Music festivals

This guide will help you plan for your music festival. Understand who to talk to, what approvals you need, and when, so your festival runs smoothly.

Crowd at music festival

Complete the notification form

The sooner you notify us that you are planning a music festival, the more time you'll get to complete a Safety Management Plan. 

Fill in the early notification form

Contact us

Need help or want to ask a question about music festivals? We are here to help you.

Email the Music Festival team


Planning your festival

Together let’s create a great experience!

Music festivals are a much-loved part of our community. Music lovers coming together to enjoy a shared experience is a freedom we welcome back.

A good festival has many elements that create the whole experience.  These can include food and drink stalls, location and venue, transport availability, volunteers, security, disability access, and amenities. All must be kept within budget with well-planned communications.

We can help you plan a great event, so before you start read the event starter guide.

Don't forget the approvals

  • In all the excitement of planning a festival, don't forget there's a range of local and state government authorities you need to speak to.
  • Use the early notification form to tell the NSW Government you're planning a festival
  • By using this form, you get the help you need and there's no last-minute rush on paperwork - so you can focus on putting on the best festival possible.

Icon of Music festival calendar - 12 months out

Twelve months out

Start planning now

At least 12 months out from your festival’s start date, you should begin planning.

Festivals can vary from small and exclusive to large and commercial, or family-friendly to high-energy dance, or a full metal fest. Either way, it is a lot of work.

To make it easier, you'll find topics to discuss with each government authority in the NSW music festival regulatory checklist (PDF, 176.9 KB).

Read below to learn more about who you need to contact.

People meeting park bench

Contact the local council at your festival location

Once you've submitted the early notification form, there are music festival applications you may need to prepare with the council.

Council approval times vary, so be sure to contact them 12 months out.

Councils also have different application processes, these can include a development application (DA), event application, emergency management plan, food safety, traffic, noise and environmental management.

The Office of Local Government can help you contact the local council.

Find the location council


Icon of Music festival calendar - 6 months out

Six months out

With six months to go, you will need to focus on contacting the NSW Government agencies that will partner with you, such as NSW Health, NSW Ambulance, NSW Police and SafeWork NSW.

These agencies may be contacted by the council earlier than 6 months. So best to contact them as soon as possible.

If you are running a large festival, you may want to contact these agencies earlier than 6 months before your festival starts.

Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority 

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) decides if your event is a ‘subject festival’. Not all festivals are a ‘subject festival’ under the Music Festivals Act 2019. A subject festival must have a safety management plan (SMP) approved by ILGA before the festival can go ahead.

How to know if your festival needs an approved SMP

Fill in the music festival early notification form as soon as possible. ILGA will use the information you provide to determine if you need an SMP.

Fill in the form as soon as possible. The sooner you do fill in the form, the more time you'll have if you need an SMP.

More about safety management plans

People in a stand up meeting

NSW Health & NSW Ambulance

Learn what health services and resourcing you will need at your festival with the NSW Health Guidelines for Music Festival Organisers.

Contact the NSW Health music festivals team because they will be able to provide advice on how to make your music festival safer. 

They will also be able to put you in contact with the Local Health District and NSW Ambulance.

Email NSW Health

Strata building developer man in tie smiling at camera.

Contact NSW Police

NSW Police will be able to work with you to keep your festival attendees safe and secure. Always seek their advice when putting on a music festival.

User pays agreement

NSW Police may ask you to enter into a user pays agreement with them. If you enter into an agreement with NSW Police for user pays police, you will not pay for drug detection dog activities unless you have expressly requested this service from NSW Police.

Security incident register

If security will be at your festival, the security licensee will need to keep a security incident register. Security activities include: acting as a bodyguard, crowd controller, patrolling, protecting, or guarding property.  Learn how to do a security incident register.

Contact NSW Police

SafeWork inspectors working with police.

Contact SafeWork NSW 

SafeWork NSW will help you meet your workplace health and safety requirements. 

Learn how to manage the health and safety of workers, volunteers and the public by reading:

Visit SafeWork NSW for more information.

Contact SafeWork NSW

Safework inspector

Contact NSW Fire & Rescue

Contact NSW Fire & Rescue to confirm what support is required during your music festival and what safety precautions should be in place before your music festival starts for emergency and incident planning. 

Visit NSW Rural Fire Service to contact the Area Command of your festival. 

Contact NSW Fire and Rescue

Photo of a fire fighter next to a fire engine, opening a hydrate.

Music festival icon 3 months out

Three months out

If your music festival is a ‘subject festival’ submit your SMP for ILGA’s approval.

If you notified ILGA early of your upcoming festival, you will be given more time to submit your SMP for approval – it is due at least 60 days before your festival starts instead of three months out. 

You are almost there! This is the final check-off point. 

Use your NSW music festival regulatory checklist (PDF, 176.9 KB) to ensure you have completed all your duties as the music festival organiser.

Are all agencies and staff fully briefed (see next section Keeping everyone up to date)? Has your staff roster been locked in? Do staff understand their roles? Have you received all approvals?  

Don't forget to email NSW Health and the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority a copy of the staff roster, at least 14 days before your festival starts.

Get excited! Bring on the music!


Image of icon of hand shake

Keeping everyone up to date

Regular stakeholder briefings are very important to keep all involved updated on the progress of your festival. 

Stakeholder briefings

You will need to hold stakeholder briefings before, during, and after your festival. 

This will ensure all stakeholders involved in running your festival understand their role and your plans to manage the risks at your festival. 

When planning your festival, your briefings will cover topics that may not be relevant to all stakeholders. You must ensure each stakeholder is briefed in relation to their role. 

Depending on the topic to be covered at a briefing, you may invite all stakeholders or a select group of stakeholders.

These stakeholders may include venue operators, performers, security providers, caterers, and others.

Remember to keep detailed attendance and minutes of all stakeholder briefings that you organise.

A woman raising her hand to vote in a strata meeting

Health service provider briefings

While not all stakeholders invited to a health service provider briefing are required to attend, inviting them provides an opportunity to participate and raise any questions or concerns. 

Invite the following stakeholders to health service provider briefings:

  • Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority
  • NSW Police
  • Fire and Rescue NSW, as well as the NSW Rural Fire Service if your festival is served by them
  • NSW Health and NSW Ambulance
  • the local council where the festival is being held
  • any other appropriate stakeholders, including venue operators.

You must notify these stakeholders seven days before a briefing will be held and specify the date, time, and location.

The recommended timing of these briefings and what they should cover are in the SMP template and the NSW Health Guidelines

Hands open in explanation gesture in a meeting with a laptop on a table

Safety management plans

Don't leave it to the last minute

If you need an approved safety management plan to hold your festival, don't leave it to the last minute - it can take more than three months to complete.

Submit the early notification form and you'll get more time to complete your SMP.

An approved safety management plan is needed before a ‘subject festival’ under the Music Festivals Act 2019 can be held. 

Not all music festivals need a safety management plan approved by ILGA. If yours needs to be approved, the process is below.

How to complete a safety management plan

  1. Download the SMP template or create your own.  
  2. Read the Guidelines for Music Festival Event Organisers, this will help you know what to put in your safety management plan.
  3. When filling out your SMP, speak to NSW Health, NSW Ambulance, NSW Police and SafeWork NSW.  They will be able to provide feedback.  ILGA will want to know you have discussed your festival with them before they approve the SMP.

Submit your SMP

Once completed, email your safety management plan along with the music festival safety management plan approval form to the music festivals team.

Submit SMP to the music festival team

After you submit your SMP 

ILGA will review your safety management plan and contact you by email if any changes are needed.

If updates are made to your SMP after submission, email those updates to the music festival team. 

Understanding COVID rules

NSW has relaxed a range of COVID-19 restrictions, however staying up to date with the rules when it comes to public gatherings and social distancing needs to be at the forefront of your planning.

Your event management planning should include the following considerations:

  • What permits are required?
  • How many people are allowed to attend? This should include artists, managers, contractors, suppliers and ticket holders. 
  • Are there any specific requirements? Do attendees need to wear masks? Does everyone need to check in? How spaced out do amenities need to be?
  • What signage is required to ensure social distancing?
  • What happens if new restrictions come into effect?

These guides will assist you to manage COVID-19 risks and prepare a COVID-19 Safety Plan: 

Funding support

There is funding available to help get the music and live entertainment industry back on its feet following COVID-19.

Audience at an event

Funding to relaunch the performing arts sector. Covers eligible performances from 19th September to 30th April 2022.

More information on eligibility and how to apply is available.

Family at an outdoor event

This fund supports eligible organisers, if their major event was disrupted or cancelled because of the Public Health Orders (PHO) between Wednesday 15 December 2021 and Saturday 31 December 2022.

More information on eligibility and how to apply is available.

Landscape with sunset

This fund supports to events in regional NSW that have the potential to promote tourism in the area by attracting overnight visitation and delivering long term benefits to the region.

More information on eligibility and how to apply is available.

SummerFestival

This fund helps attract new major international and domestic events to regional areas and supports existing regional events to grow.

Events funded through round one will be hosted in regional NSW between March 2021 and June 2022.

More information on eligibility and how to apply is available.

ScaleWidthWyIxMDI0Il0 small business florist

This rebate helps businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and encourages growth by reducing the cost of running a business.

You may be eligible for small business fees and charges a rebate of $2,000.

More information on eligibility and how to apply is available.

Young woman on her mobile phone working in a small business

Eligible payroll tax customers will have their annual tax liability reduced for the 2021/22 financial year.

More information on eligibility and how to apply is available.

Community events

The State Significant Event Fund is a contestable fund that is designed to enable accelerated investment to secure, acquire and develop signature events of national and international significance.

Sydney Harbour Bridge during Vivid

The NSW Government is investing $50 million in the CBDs Revitalisation Program to encourage people back into CBDs across Greater Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle and boost the state’s economic activity.

A festival in Western Sydney NSW

The Festival celebrates the breadth, beauty, and possibilities of NSW’s public spaces. 

Over the next 12 months, you will see a rolling program that highlights the importance and beauty of our public spaces.


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